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J. G. Merquior UN IVERS ITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS BERKELEY LOS .... NGELES University of California Press Bcrkdey an

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Foucault J.

G. Merquior



University of California Press Bcrkdey and Los Angdes ©J. G. Merquior 1985 First publisheuggested by Foucault (pre-modern mind!> accepted the reality of madness - 'madness as part of truth' - just as they accepted the reality of sin; but this does not mean that they valued madness, any more than sin); (4) as Marrin Schrenk (himself a severe critic of Foucault) has shown, early modern madhouses ckvdoped from medieval hospitals and monasteries rather than as reopened leprosaria; (5) the Great Confinement was primarily aimed not at deviance but at poverty - criminal poverty, crazy poverty or just plain poverty; the notion that it heralded (in the name of the rising bourgeoisie) a moral segregation does not bear dose scrutiny; (6) at any rate, as stressed by another critic of Foucault, Klaus Doerner (Madmen and the Bourgeoisie, 1969) there was no uniform statecontrolled confinement: the English and German patterns, for example, strayed greatly from the louis Quatorzian Grand RenfermmJent: (7) Foucault's periodization seems to me amiss. By the late eighteenth century, confinement of the poor was generally deemed a failure; but it is then that confinement of the mad really went ahead, as so conclusively shown in statistics concerning England, France and the United States: (8) Tuke and Pinel did not 'invent' mental illness. Rather, they owe much to prior therapies and often relied also on their methods; (9) moreover, in nineteenth-

The Great Confinement, or du core de la folie

29 century England moral treatment was not that central in the medicalization of madness. Far from it : as shown by Andrew Scull, physicians saw Tukean moral therapy as a lay threat to their an, and strove to avoid it or adapt it to their own practice. Once more, Foucault's epochal monoliths crumble before {he contradictory wealth of rhe historical evidence. Indeed, his grim tale of high-minded medical tyranny is by no means wholly supported by the actual record of therapy in the age of [he asylum, David Rothman. a social historian who did innovative research on the development of mental institutions in Jacksonian America, documented a mid-nineteenth-century withdrawal from psychiatric to merely custodial methods (The Discovery of the Asylum, 1971), Rothman 's story chimes perfectly well with the 'therapeutic nihilism' of the age - the medical reluctance to pass from diagnosis to treatment, based on a pessimistic view of medicine's powers (the young Freud. half a century later, still had to fight this medical ideology, long entrenched in Vienna), !J Now Rmhman is by no means suggesting that the custodial (as opposed to the psychiatric) asylum was a good thing, On the contrary, he sees the custodial spirit as tied up with early bourgeois contra,! of 'dangerous' social categories. But if he is right, then what was 'on' as a repressive phenomenon concerning insanity was a medical passivity. not the busybody psychiatry that Foucault wants to present as a handmaid of a despotically interventionist. regimenting Reason. The brunt of Foucault's book is a passionate case against our received wisdom on the humanitarianism of the Enlightenment. Therefore acclaimed expertS of that period, among them Lawrence Stone, could scarcely have failed ra rise to such a challenge to their own more balanced views. 14 And what are we to think of his idea of the establishment of psychiatry as 'gigantic moral imprisonment'? The truth is that private madhouses and old state asylums used to be scandalously ill-handled and the reforms of pioneers such as Tuke and Pinel , leading to the creation of the first modern mental hospitals, though not so perfectly angelic as it was once thought, were genuine deeds of enlightened philanthropy. Foucault's charge of 'moralizing Sadism', applied to the infancy of psychiatry, is a piece of ideological

30 Foucault melodrama. h is all very well to take one's nand du coti de la folie exetpt that, in one's eagerness to cast the insane in the role of society's victims, one may easily forget that they were often d«piy unhappy, and that thdr plight cried out for therapy. The idea that the educationrathn-than-fetters approach was juSt a repressive (however unconsciously so) carceral dn'ice does not resist critical examination. Foucauh's bourgeoisphobia tends to dismiss Victorian philanthropy OUt of hand, but a less biased middle-class humanitarian called Charles Dickens, appalled as he was by London workhouses, was greatly impressed - notes Dr J.K. Wing in Reasoning about Madn~ IS - by the humane atmosphere of small mental hospitals in America, where physicians and staff went as far as to share meals with the patients. h would ~ unwise to extrapolate from this, and indttd many other positive testimonies of contempories, an idyllic portrait of psychiatric humanity; but neither is there any compelling, factually backed reason to jump to the opposite conclusion and declare that the full medicalization of madness during the first age of 'bourgeois' psychiatry was pan and parcel of a ghastly (to use an adjective later sloganized by Foucault) 'caretral' society. Indttd, sinet 1969, we possess the natural corrective to Foucault's Manichaean picture in Klaus Doerner's well~rc:searched 'social history of insanity and psychiatry' in bourgeois sociery. Doerner's Madmen and the Bourgeoisie, a comparative study of the British, French and German experiences, is far from wholly disagreei~g with Foucault in its description of the dawn of psychotherapy (though it points our his tendency to generalize too much from the French case). Where Doerner does depart from Madntss and Civi[iUltion is in his evaluation of it. Take his terse chapter on Pinel (H,2), or again, the one (1,2) on the London physician whom he tightly rescues from the shadows of oblivion as the first to provide a comprehensive approach to psychiatry, encompassing theory, therapy and the asylum: William Battie (1104-76). The methods of enlightened alienists such as Pinel brought abom a decisive shift fro.m the sequestration of the insane to their return to social visibility in asylums open [0 the gaz~ of relatives, psychiatristS

The Great Confinement, or du c6t~ de la folie 31 and medical students alike. But whereas Foucault chastises the 'objectifying' slant of the medical gaze at work in the regime of observation under which patients were placed, Doerner stresses that [he primacy of 'moral ueatments' largely entailed the abandonment of traditional medical methods; and to that extent, amounted to a considerable rejection of the 'distancing anitude' (just remembtt Dickens's American hospital), Similarly, Doerner, who has a keen eye for the influence of Rousseaunian ideas on non-authoritarian moral education (Pinel was a devotet of Jean-Jacques) and does not overlook the spread of preromantic sensibility on the eve of the psychiatric reforms. finds Barrie's cure-not-care programme, in mid-eightetnth-century London. profoundly humanitarian, Not for nmhing was Barrie's Treatise on Madness (1758) an attack (promptly repelled) against the rherapnltic nihilism of the Monro family, who had owned and run Bedlam hospital for twO centuries. Furthermore, by stressing insanity as alienation. as shown in the very title of his Trait~ mMicophi!osophique sur I'ali~nation mmtale ou la manie (1801). Pinel relocated madness within man, whether mind or body. But in so doing he gave pride of place not to insanity-as-illness (Foucaulr's bite noire) but to insanity as case history. Now this focus on the individual (a harbinger of Freud ) was patently a remarkably progressive step parallel, in fact, to a similar move in contemporary physical medicine which, as we shall presently Set, was to be brilliantly chronicled by Foucault in his next book. Doerner can only conclude that Foucault, for all h-is authoring 'the first important approach' to the sociology of psychiatry, offers 'too one-sided' an account - one where the dialectics of the Enlightenment is 'unilaterally resolved in terms of its dl'StruClive aspect'. In The Birth of the Clinic: an Archaeology of M edical Perception (1963) Foucault scrt.;tinized a much shorrerspan. the rich hisroryof medi· cine between rhe last third of theeighretnth century and the French Restoration (1815-30). Concentrating on old medical treatises, of which we are given fascinating interpretations, the book , which wascommissioned by Canguilhem, unearths different 'perceptual structures' underpinning thr ~ successive kinds of medical theory and practice,


Foucault Two major shifts stand out. In the first, a 'medicine of species', still reigning around 1770, gave way to the first stageo( clinical medicine. The medicine of species did in nosology what linnaeusdid in botany: it classified diseases as species. It was assumed that diseases were entities with no necessary connection to the body. Transmission of diseases occurred when some of their ' qualities' , through 'sympathy', intermingled with the patient's kind of temperament (one was still close to Galen and his humoral views). ' Unnatural environments' were thought to favour the spread of disease, so that peasants were deemed to suffer from fewer illnesses than the urban classes (epidemics, unlike diseases, were not considered fixed emities but products of dimate, famine and mher external factors). By contrast, early clinical medicine was a 'medicine of symptoms': it regarded diseases as dynamic phenomena. Instead of being fixed emities, diseases were thought of as mixtures of symptoms. Symptoms, in their rum, were taken for signs of pathological developments. Consequently, in medical theory, the taxonomic charts of classical medicine were replaced by temporal continua, allowing in panicular for an increased study of cases. Finally, on the threshold of the nineteenth century, there emerged another medical paradigm: the clinical mind replaced the medicine of symptoms by a 'medicine of tissues' - anatomo-c1inical theory. Diseases no longer denoted species or sets of symptoms. Rather, they now pointed to lesions in specific tissues. Physicians came to focus much more - in their anempt to gain pathological knowledge - on the individual patient. The medical gau turned into a glance, a visual equivalent of touch, as doctors looked for hidden causes instead of JUSt surface symptoms. Death - seen as a life process - became the great master of dinical anatomy, revealing through the decomposition of bodies the invisible truths sought by medical sciena. Death and the individual, shows Foucault - the very themes of high romantic an and literature - were also underlying the new 'perceptual code' of medicine - a code which found its gospel in the General Anatomy (1801 ) of Xavier Bichat (1771-1801). As Fran~is Broussais (1772-1838; Examination of Medical Doctrines. 1816), building on Bichat's histology, based medical knowledge on

Tht' Grt'at Confint'nlmt, or du cOte de la folie


physiology rather than simply on anatomy and explained fevers as pat hological reactions due to tissue damage, the wheel came full circle: classical medi cine died at the hands of scientific doctors. Classical medicine had an obia::t - disease - and an aim - health. Clinical medicine come of age substituted the sick body for the disease as an object of medical perception, and normalcy for health as the desideratum of the healer's art. Thus the ideal of normalcy, debunked as a repressive prop in Madness andCiIJiiization, turns up again under Foucault's hostil e eye at the end of his history of the birth of modern medicine. This rime. however, the picrure is much less burdened by amimodern and anti-bourgeois prejudice. In his first, slender book, M ental Illness and Psychology (1954), Foucault had often reasoned as a 'cu ltural school' psychoanalyst, aHributing mental disturbance to conflict-ridden capitalist society. In Madness and Civiliz.ation. more daringly, he stood on the side of (mythical ) folly against bourgeois reason. Though he would probably acknowledge neither, one might say that he moved from the position of an Erich Fromm into that of a Norman Brown - from an emphasis on social blockage of human bliss to a call for the liberation of the Dionysian id. In The Birth of the Clinic no such outbursts are discernible. The book is very well written - indeed. composed with great literary skill - but its [One is not that far from the sober elegance of Cangu ilhem's own papers on the his[Ory of scientific ideas. What The Birth of the Clinic did was to bring Foucault O('arer to structuralism. An essay which speaks of perceptual codes and st ructures, describes the 'spat ializations of the pathological', and insists on a non-linear rendering of intellectual history - on 'archaeology' as a Kuhn- like cac."Sura [ account of p aradigm shifts in

medical thought - was bound to be com pared to the theoretical idiom then in ascendancy in France. An able commentator, Pamela MajorPaetzl, rightly noticed that whereas Madness andCiIJilization tried to change our standard perception of madness but not our conventional way of thinking about history, The Birth of the Clinic does precisely the larrcrY il int roduces several spatial concepts dear to the structuralist mi nd.



last, it should bt notice:d that Th~ Birth of the Clinic also inaugurates, in Foucaulr's work, the problematic of the: mode: of social insertion of discourses. He grants a fair degree of autonomy in discour5~formation. Howc=ver, this is not the whole Story. He also wants to inquire into the concrete way a given discourse (e:.g., medical thought ) gets articulattd with other social practices, o:ternaJ to it. At the same time, he tries hard to avoid coarse: detc=rministic cliches like the omnibus base/superstructure 'explanations' in (vulgar) Marxism, and he strives to envisage: more: flexible pattc=rns of explanation without falling into the cloudy abstractions common in the structural Marxism of Ahhusser and his followers, who talk a lot about 'overde:termination', 'structural causation' and 'structural dfect' but seldom, if e:ve:r, come: to grips with any empirical stuff (they don't like to dirty their hands with the analysis of re:al history). The Birth of the Clinic contains chapters on the social context of big changes in medical the:ory and practice:. For instance. we are shown how the government throughout the French Rc=volution , undc=r duress because of the increase in the sick population in wartime, compe:nsate:d for the lack of hospitals and competent physicians by rd uctantly opening clinics. The clinic, in turn, made it possible to circumvent the medical guilds and their traditional lore. thereby hdping to launch new 'perceptual structures' in medicine. Thus we can see that the causal rdation bc=tween social context and paradigm shift in medical discourse is of indirect, even oblique, character. It is all a question of showing 'how medical discourse as a practicc= concerned with a particular field of objects, finding itself in the hands of a certain numbc=r of statutorily designated individuals and having ce:rtain fun ctions to e:xercise in socie:ty. is articulated on practices that are external to it and which are not themsdves of a discursive order. ' 17 'A rticulated': here is the srratc=gic word. As Roland Barthes liked to say, structuralism is very fond of · 'arthrologiOl!i' - of reasoned disquisitions on links and connections.

3. An archaeology of the human sCiences

Th~ tid~

of this s«tion is

l i t~rall y th~ s ubtid~

of Foucault's

masterpiece, Les Mots et ies chases (The Orchr of Things in English). Surprisingly, however, the book don not resume the problem of articulation of social and intellectual practices. Rather, it rejoices in

an ex u~ram . insightful description of the latter. Foucauh simply takes the Western discourses on life. wealth and language in order [Q grasp the conceptual background against which, during the nineteenth century, arose the sciences of man. The time-span is roughly the same as in Madness and Civilization: from the Renaissance to the present, stretched [Q the contemporary so that a word can ~ said not only on Freud but also on phenomenology and structural anthropology. The inspiration to writ~ The Oukr of Things, Foucault says in his foreword, came ro him as h~ r~ad a short srory by Borges in which the ironic Argentinian refers ro 'a certain Chinese encyclopaedia' in which 'animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (0 fabulous, (g) stray dogs, {hl included in the present classification, (il frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camel~ h air brush. (I) ~t cetera, (ml having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way o ff look like flies.' The ludicrous oddness of such classification suggests to Foucault, through ' the exotic charm of another syst~m of thought', 'the limitation of our own', In other words, Borges' imaginary encyclopaedia can be ta ken as a symbol of alien panernsof categorization; th~ fabl~ points to incommensu rabl e systems of ordering things, The question, then, naturally arises: what are the borders of our own way of thinking? How do w~, modern Wesr~rn~rs, order phenomena? Foucault's archa~ology of [he human



sciences is an attempt to give an answer, presented in historical perspective, to such a question. The subject matter of his book are fundamental cultural corks imposing order upon experience. Foucault picked up the label 'archaeology' to denote 'the history of that which renders necessary a cmain form of thought'. 'Archaeology' deals with nectSSary, unconscious and anonymous forms of thought, which Foucault calls 'epistemes'. An episteme is the 'historical a priori' which, 'in a given period, delimits in the totality of experience a field of knowledge, defines the mode of being of the objects that appear in that field, provides man's everyday perception with theoretical powers, and defines the conditions in which he can sustain a discourse about things that is recognized to be true:'.1 Since epiSteme:s are conceptual strata underpinning various fields of knowledge and corresponding to different epochs in Western thought. historical analysis must 'unearth' them - hence the archaeological model. In the foreword to the English translation of Les Molset leschoses. Foucault describes thought-archaeology asa history of systems of 'nonformal knowledge:'. The history of science, he tells us, has long favoured 'noble sciences' of the necessary such as mathematics and physics. Disciplines studying living beings, languages or economic facts, on theother hand, were considered too e:mpirical and too exposed to external constraints 'for it to be supposed that their history could be anything other than irregular'. Foucault intends to redress the balance. His focus will fall on three 'empiricities': life, labour, and language, or, more exactly, man as a living. a productive and a speaking animal, or again, man in his biological, his socio-economic and his cultural dimension. Natural history and biology, economics, grammar and philology will be his hunting grounds in The Order of Things . And - most important - Foucault is convinced that, at a deep level, [here is a high degree of isomorphism between all these areas of knowledge, within each epistemic phase. One might say, taking advantage of the renown of the: Kuhnian concept, that Foucault wants to identify some scientific paradigms. But his paradigms are different from Kuhn's in three important ways. First, instead of referring to physics, they straddle, as we have just

An archaeology of the human sciences 37 s~en. on~ natural sci~nc~ (biology) and two social sci~nces (economics and linguistics). Secondly, they do nO[ normally correspond to conscious principles, like those expounded by Newton, providing a model for scientific activity by specifying problems and sening up methods for their soludon; rather, they are located beneath the level of conscious theorizing and methodological awareness. Kuhn's paradigms are 'exemplars' : they operate as concrete models shared by researchers in th~ir sci~mific practice - a practice aimed at 'refining the paradigm'. As such, and insofar as they are 'more than theory but less than a world vi~w' , his paradigms ar~ larg~Jy open-end~d, implicit and even half-conscious - bur they are nor by definition unknown to scientists as Foucault's epistemes are. Foucault's conceptual grids are always out of reach for those whose thinking is bound by their laws. Lastly, and precisely because they belong more to practice than to a scientific collective unconscious, paradigms are not - as messed by Kuhn himself - strictly rule-bound; but epistemes definitely are: 1 they ar~ 'fundamental codes', generative grammars of cognitive language. Ultimately the twO conceprs designate two basically different levels: paradigms may be 'more than theories' but, compared to epistemes, they surely are on the level of theories; episremes, on the other hand, are more than world views - they are built in a still dttper layer of (un )consciousness. Yet Foucault 's epistemes are similar to Kuhnian paradigms in fWO other respects: (a) they are (to use Kuhn's own famous word) ' incommensurable', i.e., radically divergem from each other; and (b) they do not perish in response to a compelling independ~nt body of contrary ~vidence and argument, but rather - as in Kuhn's 'Gestalt sw it chcs' within the sciemific communi ty, cquivalem to mass religious conversions resulting from mysterious alterations of social psychology - in response to cultural sea changes. And just as Kuhn has his 'scientific revolutions' preceded by periods of paradigm-crisis, so Foucault (albeit with far less emphasis) shows the shortcomings and fatigue of at least two epistemes: the 'classical' (seventeenth to eighteenth c~turies ) and the 'modern' (essen tially last century's). There is, nevertheless, a last. important difference: Kuhnian crises

38 Foucault are times of fierce competition, as old and new paradigms fight each other in a true struggle for life; and although the final victory of one of them stems from extra· rational causes, this Darwinian picture of paradigm·struggle seems to harbour a residual homage fO the objective, immanent logic of scientific argument. After all, nowhere d~ Kuhn contend that, in the perpetual problem·solving which is science, once: a solution to a particular puzzle is found under an old paradigm , it bttomes ruled OUt under the new one.! This may sound inconsistent with his glaring rejection of a cumulative view of the his[Qry of science; but perhaps it is the latter which is inconsistent in itself. In any event, the evolution of Kuhn's thought, as shown in his famous Postscript to the second edition of The Structure of Scientific Rn'olutions (1970), went clearly towards the acknowledgement of a core of objectivity; he has come to recognize, or tather, to stress, in the words of David Papineau, 'the possibility that there are after all cenain impanial basa of comparison with respect th~ries


which some

can be shown to be objectively better than others' . 4 Foucault, by contrast, never grants as much. As a matter of fact, all his work since The Order of Things has moved far away from any such admission: 'ob jective knowledge' remained [Q him a foreign notion through and through. An episteme, therefore, may be called a paradigm. providing it is not conceivea of as an exemplar. a model of cognitive work. It is a ba~ment (sous·sol) of thought, a mental infrastructure underlying all strands of the knowledge (on man) at a given age, a conceptual 'grid' (grille, in Foucault's Lhi·Srraussian wording) that amounts to an 'historical a priori' - almost a historicized form of Kant's categories. Now such histori cal a prioris are not only imcompatible but incommensurable: thus Buffon, as a true specimen of the classical episteme in the eightetnrh ctntury, was simply unable tosee the point of the Renaissance naturalist Aldrovandi's fanciful history of serj)(nts and dragons. Buffon's perplexity, says Foucault, was not due to the faCT ThaT he was less credulous or more rarional a mind; rather, it was a consequence of the fact thar his eyes were not linked to things in the same way as Aldrovandi's were because they did not sharr the same episteme (ch.II,4).

An archaeology of the human sciences 39 Foucault's history of ~pist~mes - not to be confused, h ~ warns, with th~ history of science or ev~n a mor~ g~n~ral his[Qry of id~as constantly und~rscores discontinuities between its historical blocks. w~ ar~ giv~n no syst~ms of knowledge marching [Q a mor~ faithful r~nd~ring. a mor~ r~alistic grasp of a constant, stabl~ obj«t. Inst~ad, all w~ g~t ar~ '~nigmatic discontinuities' (ch.VII, l ) between four ~pist~mes! th~ pre-classical, up to th~ middl~ of th~ sev~ntecnth c~ntury; th~ 'classical', up to th~ ~nd of th~ dght~~nth century; th~ 'modern'; and a truly cont~mporary ag~, which has only taken form sinc~ around 1950. Th~ first and th~ last epist~mes ar~ bardysk~tched in The Order of Things! only th~ classical and th~ mod~rn ages ~r~ fully described. And description, not causal ~xplanation. of th~ir sequ~nc~ is all that interests Foucault; as h~ candidly states in his for~word, h~ deliberately brushed asid~ th~ probl ~m of th~ causes of th~ ~pist~mic chang~.

Although, as just r~call~d, Foucault's ~nterpris~ is no history of had of necessity to rely on such a disciplin~ in order to id~ntify and organiz~ his mat~rial. Actually, h~ gladly ref~ts to a specific tradition within mod~rn his[Qry (and philosophy) of science: th~ school of Bachdard, Cavailles and Canguilh~m. devoted [Q th~ history of concepts. Canguilh~m is himself a pupil and successor (at th~ Sorbonn~) of Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962), Franc~'s OUtstanding ~pi5t~mologist in th~ thirties and forties. To a c~rtain extent, Bachelard m~ans to Foucault what Mauss m~a nt to levi-Strauss and Blanchm to Barrhes: a highly seminal protoslructuralist approach to th~ conceptualization of th~ir rcspectiv~ probl~m5. Bachelard gav~ pride of plac~, in his s~arch for conceptual desc~nts, to discontinuities. All his Iif~ h~ thunder~d against 'fals~ continuities' assumed ~twttn id~as which wer~ worlds apart in th~ir historical intellectual cont~xts. In his La Formation de I'esprit scimtifique (1936) h~ avoid~d a triumphalist. Iin~ar view of sci~ntific progress by ~mphasizing th~ importance of '~pist~mological obstacles'. In Le Rationalisme applique (1949) Bachelard brought into play th~ concept of probJematique: a 'probl~matic' develops within a sci~nce und~r way, never from an int~llectual andcognitiv~ void. Therefor~ it connotes, not truth or experi~ncc in gen~raJ . but always panicular sci~nc~, h~



objects in a specific scientific domain, contemplated in its cognitive dynamic. Together with the sense of discontinuity - what we may choose to call the 'caesural' view of scientific development - the nOlion of problematic was the second main bequest of Bachelard to Canguilhem, Ahhusser, and, t hrough them, to Foucault. A third legacy, however, was no less significant: the strong anti-empiricist leanings of Bachelard's epistemology. Bachelard kept scientific reason and common sense firmly separated. 'Science is not the pleonasm of experience,' he w(me.·1 Along with anti-empiricism went a solid distrust of Platonic theories of truth. Bachelard had learned from Leon Brunschvicg, the great Sorbonne epistemologist during (he Belle Epoque, to recognize no prior truth: science is by no means a reflection of truth; just as work is an antiphysis, scientific work is an 'antilogy', a refusal of usual concepts. Scientists are 'the workers of evidence', which means they work, first and foremost, on the evidence. Science advances through the cogitamus of a scientific community for whom truth lies not in the given but in the constructed: scientific rationalism rests on a co-rationalism - of which, however, even in the sympathet ic opinion of Cangui lhem, Bachelard gave tOO psychologistic an account.& Three, then, were the main legacies of Bachelard to structuralist epistemology: (a) caesuralism (the theme of the break or coupure epistemolog;que' (, rupture' in Bache1ard), centra l in Foucault and Alrhusser; (b) anti-empiricism; (c) a constructivist view of science to which belong the concepts of 'problemat ic' and the virtual collapsing of rationality as such into mere scient ific 'practice'. Moreover, from tht: outset he strove to free epistemology from the spel l of Descartes. Where Descartes reductively equates science wit h certainties built on simple objects. Bachelard ca lls for an induction based on the complex data of open ob;ectifications wi llingl y contented with probabilities.7 He also rejecred rhe Cartesian idea of immutable scientific trUths, progressively revealed to a system of knowledge that knows growth but nor, in the main, structural change. Th is was too Platonic for Bachelard; he preferred to see Truth as an outcome of rational activity within the ' sciem ific city' (an echo of Georges Sorel, M who wou ld in all likelihood have relished the phrase 'ouvr;ers de la preuve' (Q

An archaeology of the human sciences 41 describe scientists). Hyppolite W(Ole that Bachelard had the 'romanticism of intdligence'.9 Indeed, his mess on risk and the fruitfulness of error does sometimes recall Sir Karl Popper's heroic view of science. However, one thing is sure: Bachelacd's anti-Cartesianism !>eems miles away from that of thestructutalists. Bachelard was a rationalist who enthused about abstract thought and had no room for the structuralist love of intellectual bricolage and the 'logic of the concrete'. Again, he wrote a lot on caesuras and discontinuities, but didn' t theorize about epochal blocks in the history of science. True, he warned there was no point in discussing alchemy and modern chemistry as though they belonged to the same conceptual univer!>ebut he never spoke in similar terms of ages within modern i.e., Galilean. science. Significantly. when Kuhn's chronicle of paradigms in physics borrowed from French historians of science. it turned not to Bachdard but to Alexandre Koyr~ (1892-1964). Koyre a Russian who studied under Hus!>ecl in Gottingen before moving into thecirde of the and-positivist rationalist. Emile Meyerson (1859-1933), in Paris. After the war Koyce spent regular spells at Princeton. The watertight contrast he drew between ancient and modern science as cultural worlds (From the Closed World to the Infinite Uni/lerse, 1957) - a tale of radically diverse scientific Weltanschauungen in different ages - cleared the ground for Kuhn's paradigm theory. Koyte crucially anticipates both Kuhn and Foucault in that he stressed the role of 'extralogical factors' in the acceptance or rejection of scientific theories. Against positivist views. he insisted that the 'technical' value of a theory - its explanatory power - was by no means always the key to its victory in the history of scientific thought. lo Koyre had been too much under the spell of Husserl: he knew that beneath scientific concepts there is a Lebenswelt. a lifeworld. saddled with a heavy 'philosophical infrastructure'. Foucault's eras of knowledge, the epistemes, are unconscious . Lebenswdten. Foucault's job in The Order of Things consists in focusing on the mutations between epistemes. Mutation is a biological concept forged by Hugo de Vries (1848-1935) and rekindled in the work of Fran,oisJacob (La Logiqu~ du /li/lant. 1970),

42 rOIlClllI/1 Foucault's Nobel Prize-winning colleague at the College de France. In the Foucaldian idiom, a mutation occurs when one set of prt'Conceptions (Koyre's philosophical infrastructure) gives way to anmher. But in Foucauh, epistemic mutations are fundamentally arbitrary. Epistemes succeed one anOlher without any inner logic. Moreover th